CV of Prof. Maria Francesca Costabile
Maria Francesca Costabile was born in Cosenza on June 5th, 1955. She is married and has a son.
Since 2000, she is full professor of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) at the Computer Science Department of the University of Bari Aldo Moro (UNIBA).
She graduated in Mathematics at the University of Calabria in 1977 (cum laude).
From 1978 to 1988 she was at the Dipartimento di Matematica, Università della Calabria as Research fellow (1978-1980) and as university researcher (1981-1988).
She worked at UNIBA from 1989 to 1999 as associate professor.
At UNIBA, Prof. Costabile created the IVU Lab (Interaction Visualization Usability & UX Laboratory), where a group of researchers performs activities on various topics related to HCI. She is the Director of IVU Lab.
She has carried out research in various Italian and foreign universities. The longer periods of research at foreign institutes were at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, NY, USA (1979), the University of Munster, Germany (1980), the University of Bonn, Germany (1983-84), the University of Houston, TX, USA (1986-87), the University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA (1991).
She has received research funds from many Italian and foreign organizations.
Beside teaching HCI, a basic course for undergraduates, and HCI II for graduate students, she taught various courses for both undergraduate and graduate Computer Science curricula, for the School of Specialization for Secondary School Teachers, for the PhD Program in Computer Science.
She has been supervisor of many master theses and has supervised PdD students, some of which are now university professors.
Scientific conference organization
With her scientific work and her commitment to organization of events at both national and international levels, Maria Francesca Costabile has played since the early 90's a major role in the development of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).
She was one of the three founders and organizers of the series of International Conferences of Advanced Visual Interfaces (AVI), held since 1992 every two years in cooperation with ACM SIGCHI. AVI 92 was the first international event on HCI issues organised in Italy by computer scientists.
She was Program Co-Chair of AVI 96 and AVI 98, General Chair of AVI 2004, member of the Steering Committee until 2010, General Chair of AVI 2016, and again member of the Steering Committee since 2016.
Moreover, she has been:
Program Co-Chair of the Tenth IFIP TC13 International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) INTERACT 2005 (Rome, September 2005).
Program Co-Chair of ACM CHI 2008 (Florence, 5-10 April 2008), the most important international conference in HCI.
General Chair of Third International Symposium on End-User Development IS-EUD 2011 (Brindisi, 7-10 June 2011) and member of the Steering Committee.
Member of the steering committee of the IEEE International Symposium Visual Languages and Human Centric Computing for six years.
Other notable roles
In 1996 she founded the Italian Chapter of ACM SIGCHI, that she chaired from 1996 to 2000. She is still very active in the Chapter that, among various events, organizes a conference every two years.
She was one of the pioneer researchers on End-User Development (EUD) and Coordinator of one of the four managing nodes o the European thematic network EUD-NET (2002-2004).
She was Member of the Italian Management Committee in the COST Action 294 MAUSE (Toward the MAturation of IT USability Evaluation), funded by UE, years 2006-2009. She organized the final MAUSE conference held in Brindisi, Italy, March 19-21, 2009.
She was Member of the Italian Management Committee in the COST Action IC0904 TwinTide (ToWards INtegration of Trans-sectorial IT Design and Evaluation), funded by UE, years 2009-2013. She organized the final TwinTide conference held in Bari, Italy, Oct 10-12, 2013.
On July 2014, Maria Francesca Costabile was invited by Dr. Emilio Simonetti, of the Department of Public Administration of the Italian Government, to become member of the Italian Working Group on Usability, called GLU (the acronym is for the Italian “Gruppo di Lavoro per l’Usabilità”). This group is doing a great work in Italy in order to improve the usability of Public Administration websites and other e-government systems.
She is regularly in the program committee of several international conferences.
During 2016-2018, Chair of the Commission nominated by the Italian Ministry of University and Research to evaluate the scientific qualification of people who are applying to became associate or full professor at the Italian universities.
Other notable organizational roles
From 2003 to 2005, Coordinator of undergraduate and graduate Computer Science Curricula of UNIBA.
From 2006 to 2008, Coordinator of undergraduate Computer Science Curriculum of UNIBA, both in Bari and in Brindisi, and from 2009 to 2011 only in Brindisi.
Since 2013, member of “Presidio della Qualità” (Quality Committee) of UNIBA.
Since 2014, member of the Quality Committee of Computer Science Dept., UNIBA.
From 2011 to 2015, member of the scientific committee of Daisy-Net, node “ICT-Sud”, a network of Universities and companies in southern Italy.
Since 2013, Director of the UNIBA unit of CINI (the National Computer Science Consortium of Italian Universities).
From 2009 to 2014, member of Didactic Committee of GRIN (the Italian Group of Researchers on Computer Science).
Since 2015, member of the Advisory Board of GRIN.
Referee of international journals and projects.
Most relevant research projects since 2000, in which she has been Scientific Coordinator of UNIBA research unit
2000-01 MURST project Cofin 2000 "Specifica, progetto e sviluppo di sistemi interattivi visuali”.
2000-02 EC project FAIRWIS "Trade Fair Web-based Information Services", IST-1999-12641.
2002-03 EC project FAIRSNET “On-line Solutions for Trade Fairs”, IST-2001-34290.
2002-03 EC project EUD-Net "Empowering people to flexibly employ advanced information and communication technology ", IST-2001-37470.
2003-06 MIUR project VICE (Comunità Virtuali per l'apprendimento).
2006-09 COST Action 294 MAUSE (Toward the MAturation of IT USability Evaluation), funded by UE. She organized the final MAUSE conference held in Brindisi, March 19-21, 2009.
2006-08 HCI unit of FAR project CHAT (Cultural Heritage fruition& e-learning applications of new Advanced (multimodal) Technologies).
2008-10 Project ICT n. 225924 - VisMaster CA (Visual Analytics - Mastering the Information Age)
2008-11 FIRB Project L4ALL (Tutti possono imparare: un approccio multi paradigma, multicanale, e multi tecnologia alla pedagogia innovativa).
2009-11 Scientific coordinator of UNIBA in several projects funded by Puglia Region.
2009-13 COST Action IC0904 TwinTide (ToWards INtegration of Trans-sectorial IT Design and Evaluation). She organized the final TwinTide conference held in Bari, Oct 10-12,2013.
2013-14 PON project LOGIN (LOGistica Integrata).
2017-2018 PRIN project COSMOS (Creation Of SMart spaces fOr end-uSer empowerment).
In 2018 she got the ACM SIGCHI Lifetime Service Award.
The IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages/Human Centric Computing offers the "Most Influential Paper Award" for important influences on VL/HCC research or commerce over the last 20 years. The 2014 Award was presented to Maria Francesca Costabile, together with Paolo Bottoni, Stefano Levialdi e Piero Mussio for their paper titled "Formalising Visual Languages", presented at the Symposium in 1995.
Maria Francesca Costabile received two awards from ACM: 1) for her commitment in chairing the Italian Chapter of ACM SIGCHI; 2) for her commitment in AVI conferences.
Multimedia Infrastructure and method to guide a visit to a site of interest
Inventors: Carmelo Ardito, Paolo Buono, Maria Francesca Costabile, Rosa Lanzilotti, Antonio Piccinno
Dipartimento di Informatica – Università degli Studi di Bari “Aldo Moro”
Industrial Patent (Italian) N. 0001401512 of 2013.
“Senior" member of IEEE, member of ACM and ACM SIGCHI, member of the Italian Chapter of ACM SIGCHI.
Research interests of Maria Francesca Costabile were initially in image analysis and computer vision.
Since 1989 her research addressed visual languages and HCI, because the main objective of her research became reducing the semantic gap between the computer and the user, designing new human-centred interfaces that understand the user behaviour rather than impose a machine-oriented behaviour. Her current interests are related to: interaction design, end-user development, information visualization, pervasive systems, usability engineering and UX.
She has published more than 250 papers in scientific journals, books and proceedings of international conferences on the above topics, and edited 7 books, published by ACM Press and Springer Verlag.
Some co-authors of Maria Francesca Costabile’s publications are students who majored in Computer Science under her supervision, and PhD students that are now researchers or professors at universities and research centres.
Short description of research activities since 1989
The research activity has been carried out at the Computer Science Dept. of UNIBA, partly in collaboration with colleagues of other Universities, both Italian and foreign.
In 1989, the central theme of research became the study of languages based on visual formalisms, in order to improve HCI. She was an international pioneer in the area of visual interfaces for querying databases, which was a very innovative area at the time (beginning of the nineties). A survey of works on this topic, classified according to different taxonomic criteria, was published in the 1997 Journal of Visual Languages and Computing and, considering the obtained citations, it is still a reference point.
Since 1995, a series of papers illustrate the "Theory of Visual Sentences", developed with colleagues of the PCL laboratory of Sapienza University of Rome, which provides a formalization of visual languages for interaction. The Theory of Visual Sentences evolves in various papers, published in proceedings of the annual symposium where the international community of visual languages meets, in the Journal of Visual Languages and Computing, in a book published by Springer on "Theory of Visual Languages", and in IEEE Trans. on SMC Part A. The "Most Influential Paper Award" (see the Awards above) presented to Maria Francesca Costabile and co-authors at the IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing in 2014 indicates the important influences of this research.
In 2001, she was invited to the European Community as an expert on End-User Development (EUD) to define the inclusion of EUD in future programs of the EU. Later, the European thematic network EUD-Net was approved and she coordinated the Bari unit, which was one of four managing nodes. She was involved in various publications on EUD; she was in the scientific committee of the first two international symposia on EUD (in 2007 and 2009), was the general chair of IS-EUD 2011, held in Torre Canne, Italy, 7-11 June 2011, and is in the Steering Committee of IS-EUD.
Usability of interactive systems has been another topic of specific interest of Maria Francesca Costabile. A novel contribution is the definition of a methodology for evaluating interactive systems, which has been applied primarily to evaluate the quality of e-learning systems; this methodology combines the inspection technique developed at the IVU lab, called Pattern-Based inspection, and usability testing to achieve more reliable results. The Pattern-Based inspection uses a set of evaluation patterns in order to guide the activities that the inspector has to perform to make a more accurate evaluation.
She has coordinated projects developed by multi-disciplinary teams involving experts in human-computer interaction, software engineering, history, archaeology, middle school students and teachers, in order to design, develop and evaluate several educational games, which run on various devices, including mobile devices and large multi-touch screens. She is interested in the use of innovative technologies in different application domains, like Technology-Enhanced Learning and Cultural Heritage. Several interactive systems have been developed, such as an m-learning system running on smartphones to support the visit to an archaeological park, whose architectural framework is the core of the patent n. 1401512. Tools that allow Cultural Heritage experts to create by themselves interactive experiences to be offered to visitors have been created.
In July 2014, Maria Francesca Costabile was invited to be member of a group of experts on Usability and UX, called GLU (the acronym is for the Italian “Gruppo di Lavoro per l’Usabilità”), coordinated by Dr. Emilio Simonetti, of the Italian Ministry of Public Administration. This group plays an important role in Italy in order to improve the usability of Public Administration websites and other e-government systems.
With her scientific work and her organization commitment at both national and international level, Prof. Costabile has played a major role in the development of HCI in Italy. For more on this, see Contributions of Prof. Maria Francesca Costabile to Human-Computer Interaction.